Richard Read/Los Angeles Times 
National Guard troops backed by state troopers guard a fenced-off Washington state Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 10.

Richard Read/Los Angeles Times National Guard troops backed by state troopers guard a fenced-off Washington state Capitol in Olympia on Jan. 10.

Washington state Capitol Campus security continues to deter large protests

OLYMPIA — The chaos that erupted on the Washington state Capitol Campus in Olympia earlier this month has largely been quieted by the presence of the National Guard and Washington State Patrol.

Both groups were called on to provide security after protesters breached the gates at the Governor’s Mansion. Since then, the protests have been small to non-existent, and that continued Sunday after a planned gathering called Washington Freedom Event appeared not to take place.

Still very evident, however, was the presence of the National Guard and security fencing that has been erected around key buildings on the west Capitol Campus.

All of it will remain in place through the inauguration of president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, followed by a determination of what level of draw down will be necessary, said Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis, who checked the Capitol Campus on Sunday.

“We all want this to be peacefully resolved and we all want to go back to a more peaceful business as usual,” he said.

Loftis said he wasn’t aware of any specific threats directed at the Capitol Campus.

“Just because you don’t have a specific threat, doesn’t mean you don’t have the possibility of problems,” he added.

As for Sunday’s lack of activity, he had two words to describe it: calm and hope. It’s calm and we hope it stays the same, he said.

Although the Washington Freedom event was apparently canceled, a one-man protest did emerge on Sid Snyder Avenue, just outside the security fencing. That’s where Trump supporter John Hess of Centralia stood, wanting to call attention to what he referred to as a stolen presidential election.

He was wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap and holding a sign that said: “Stop the steal,” followed by “Joe Biden: traitor, liar, thief.”

Accusations of a stolen presidential election have been widely disputed and legal challenges to that effect have been rejected.

In addition to Hess, a few tourists came to see the state Capitol.

For Sam Webb of Lynnwood it was his first visit to the Capitol Campus.

As for the National Guard and the fencing, it was unfortunate to see, but also understandable, he said.